Brexit is ‘red herring’ for recycling industry, believes ecosurety

Diminishing landfill and pressing need to build a circular economy are more important, says organisation’s policy director.

This summer’s EU referendum is nothing more than a ‘red herring’ and will have little impact on the waste and recycling industry, according to resource efficiency specialist ecosurety.

The proclamation from one of the UK’s fastest growing resource consultancies comes as polls suggest the ‘no’ campaign is gathering momentum, due in part to conflation of the migration crisis with the Brexit camp.

In the event of the UK leaving the EU, companies producing battery, packaging or electrical and electronic waste (WEEE) will still be required to accept their responsibilities as producers, and provide evidence of those obligations, believes the organisation. UK ‘producers’ of waste must currently pay for the impact the product lifecycle has on the environment, according to the number of items manufactured.

Understandably concerned

David Burton, policy director at ecosurety explains, “Our 1,000-plus members across food, retail, manufacturing and IT sectors, are understandably concerned about what steps to take in the short to medium term in the event of a shock exit. After significant analysis, we conclude there will be no noticeable long-term difference in the waste and recycling industry, whether the UK stays in or decides to get out of the EU this summer."

“An in-out vote is nothing more than a red herring, if nothing actually changes on the ground.”

Non-EU countries such as Norway and Switzerland have simply elected to adopt EU producer responsibility legislation, an example of how the UK could operate in the event of a ‘no’ vote. The Government, unlikely to create a new raft of waste laws, will likewise choose to maintain principles of EU directives even if the UK leaves Europe, the organisation also believes.

Finally, increasing numbers of non-EU countries are adopting the requirements to meet European producer responsibility legislation.  The UK, which already operates within EU waste and recycling frameworks, will be able therefore to trade both in and outside of Europe.

Keep red tape to a minimum

Mr Burton continues, “Given the Government’s desire to keep red tape to a minimum, ecosurety believes it will maintain the principles of the EU directives even in the event of the UK not being in Europe and that means producers being required to disclose obligations.”

Mr Burton believes a Brexit could mean smaller UK manufacturers would be affected by additional compliance costs when sending finished goods to the EU. However, this will be balanced for now by the benefits of current low oil prices, the strength of the pound, and presently beneficial raw material prices. A strong pound could also hinder the UK’s ability to export,  either in or outside Europe, he argues.

He concludes, “Overall, the UK’s recycling industry will not be as affected by the results of the referendum as by the long-term pressures on the UK to deal with its waste. The key drivers to recycle in the UK comes from increasingly scarce room for landfill, associated costs, and management of such sites. Despite our ties to Europe, we are first and foremost an island and we will always need to take responsibility for the waste created within our boundaries.

“The bigger issue is the gathering momentum of the circular economy across the globe, because the UK is nowhere near ready for it, and no referendum is going to fix that.”


About ecosurety 

Founded in 2003, ecosurety is the UK’s leading resource efficiency specialist with end to end services including environmental compliance, waste and resource management, training and intelligence reporting. With more than 1,000 customers including The Co-operative Group, Innocent, BSkyB and Britvic, ecosurety is leading change in approaches to waste and compliance throughout the UK, driving ever greater efficiencies of resource use.

Committed to reducing the environmental impact of UK businesses while improving performance, ecosurety is targeting to influence over one million tonnes of waste by 2020.

Ben Luger

Marketing projects specialist

Ben joined the team at the beginning of 2015 and helps drive marketing communications and projects for Ecosurety, including project managing the launch of the Ecosurety Exploration Fund and website content development.

Written by Ben Luger Published 17/02/2016 Topics Ecosurety

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